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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Priest testifies over US navy brutality
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¬†More than a dozen witnesses, including a Catholic priest, politicians, and a famous actor are complaining to the American government over their brutal treatment at the hands of the US Navy during a demonstration. On Tuesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus began hearing testimony of people arrested by the Navy on Viequez island on April 28, following a peaceful protest against military exercises near their homes. 180 people were detained for trespassing. The protesters said they were held all night in a dirty roofless building with little protection from rain, bugs and iguanas. Fr Nelson Lopez, said he had been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and hit with rubber bullets. The Navy was "abusive and disrespectful," he said. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, said he was kept handcuffed for more than 20 hours and not allowed to go to the toilet. Slightly-built, and weighing just nine stone, he said he had been kicked and his face was pushed to the ground as a military guard stepped on his neck. A Puerto Rican state senator in her 40s talked about being searched four times and physically abused by female personnel. Actor Edward James Olmos said he and many others were forced to kneel in a gravel-strewn area where rocks punched painfully through his jeans. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Goode said the demonstrators had been housed in the make-shift building because of a lack of facilities. She denied that excessive force had been used and said all protesters were treated with dignity. The hearing continues. The US Navy plan to begin new military exercises on the island next Tuesday (12 June) On Monday the Archbishop of San Juan, Roberto GonzŠlez, appealed on behalf of his people at St. Patrick's Church in Albany. For background read: ICN 3 June: Calls for end to US bombing of Caribbean island
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